There’s no musical style that can’t be made better with a little bit of reverb—girl groups, shoegazer, twee—it’s all fair game. It’s the whipped cream or parmesan cheese of music, dressing every song with the right amount of ornamentation to add just the slightest bit more flavor. Of course, depending on how much you use, the flavor could be drastically changed. Imagine the Jesus and Mary Chain or any Phil Spector production without it; either artist would pretty much be left without a defining characteristic, just to show how big a role this simple effect plays. Columbia, Missouri’s Foundry Field Recordings are such an artist that uses reverb much to their benefit, though certainly not to Psychocandy extremes.
On Fallout Stations, a new five song EP, FFR follows up their full-length debut Prompts/Miscues with a series of reverb-addled fuzz pop songs that find their melodic muse somewhere between the warm and catchy pop of Yo La Tengo and the dusty ’70s folk rock of Neil Young. The leadoff title track stretches out over six minutes, weeping gently with an atmospheric guitar sound that expands over a lengthy, instrumental intro. It’s an ambitious and majestic way to open the EP, yet is followed by much more straightforward fuzz pop in the amiable “Buy/Sell/Trade,” which sounds more like Yo La Tengo without the Neil Young influence.
“Broken Strings” is a bit more melancholy and slowed down, breezily rolling along a folk-rock progression that immediately recalls the Central Valley space pop of Grandaddy. After this highlight comes a cover of The Pixies’ “Caribou,” with extra reverb, of course. It’s not a drastic alteration of the original, but the group injects a genuine sadness into it while maintaining its hard rocking edge. Closing off this brief set is “Transistor Kids,” a pretty and anthemic standout, bringing a heroic conclusion to a set that’s surprisingly diverse for being only five tracks long. Yet each song sounds great, and it’s likely no coincidence that reverb played a strong part in that.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.